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COVID-19 PANDEMIC

GUIDELINES FOR
LAW ENFORCEMENT

26 March 2020
The coronavirus outbreak that began in late 2019 (COVID-19)
has evolved so rapidly and globally that it has been qualified
as a Public Health Emergency of International Concern and
a pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO). The
rapid spread of the disease worldwide, and uncertainties
as to its evolution, demand a global response in which law
enforcement services play a crucial role in contributing
to the effort to control the disease, promoting safer
communities, and fighting criminals who see the outbreak as
an opportunity to increase or diversify their activities.

INTERPOL, in accordance with international best practices


and the WHO, is urging its member countries to follow the
guidelines contained in this document, in order to enhance
the safety and effectiveness of law enforcement support in
the context of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Disclaimer: These guidelines are meant to be considered by law enforcement agencies as


part of a response strategy to the outbreak and in close cooperation with national public
health authorities. Their purpose is to supplement rather than replace national guidelines.
All measures taken by national law enforcement authorities should be in conformity with the
applicable national legislation and international obligations.
1.
COVID-19:
CURRENT POSITION

1.1 SYMPTOMS The most common symptoms of


COVID-19 are fever, tiredness and
dry cough. Some patients may have
aches and pains, nasal congestion,
runny nose, sore throat or diarrhoea.
These symptoms are usually mild
and begin gradually. Most people
recover from the disease without
needing special treatment.

1.2 VULNERABLE Particular attention should be paid


GROUPS to older people, and those with
underlying medical problems such
as high blood pressure, respiratory
or heart problems, diabetes, or
deficient immune systems. These
people are more likely to develop
serious illness.

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1.3 TRANSMISSION MODE

Disease transmission is most likely to occur through small


droplets from the nose or mouth which are spread from
person to person when somebody with COVID-19 coughs
or exhales. Other people catch COVID-19 by touching
objects or surfaces contaminated by these droplets, then
touching their eyes, nose or mouth.

Watch video

COUGH / EXHALE

CONTAMINATED OBJECTS AND SURFACES

PHYSICAL CONTACT TOUCHING EYES,


NOSE OR MOUTH

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2.
RECOMMENDED
PROTECTION MEASURES
There is currently no vaccine nor specific treatment
against COVID-19. The best way to prevent illness and
contamination spread is to avoid exposure to the virus.

Practise proper and frequent


handwashing or use hand-sanitizer.

Do not touch your face with


unwashed hands.

Apply social distancing measures:


the WHO recommendation is to
stay at least one metre away from
each other (some national guidelines
recommend more).

Clean or decontaminate your work


equipment if you think you have
been in contact with a COVID-19
patient and self-monitor for signs of
illness.
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Considering the transmission mode
of the disease and when available,
law enforcement officers in contact
with the general population may be
recommended to wear masks and/
or gloves.
Watch video

Important: personal protective


equipment (PPE) protects you and
others only if you know how to
use and dispose of it properly.

More information

Seek medical advice if you show


any symptom, as per your national
public health recommendations.

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PROTECTING PARTNERS, FAMILIES AND
FRIENDS AFTER YOUR SHIFT

Law enforcement duties can potentially expose officers to


COVID-19. Before coming back into direct contact with
their loved ones, law enforcement officers should maintain
social distancing measures and follow these steps when
returning home:

ff Clean or decontaminate your


work equipment, including
shoes, avoiding the spread of
particles/dust;

ff Take off duty clothes and wash


them with laundry soap as soon
as feasible. Handle, transport
and wash them in way that
limits exposure to skin, eyes,
environment and other clean
clothes (avoid shaking clothes);

ff Take a shower or wash exposed


skin with soap and water;

ff Self-monitor for signs of illness.

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3.
LAW ENFORCEMENT
DUTIES IN THE CONTEXT
OF THE COVID-19
OUTBREAK
Many countries are affected by an increasing number of
reported COVID-19 cases, requiring governments to take
strict measures in order to protect the population and to
prevent contamination spread. The WHO and national public
health practitioners are working around the clock to save
lives.

Law enforcement agencies have a key role to play in both


supporting the implementation of public health measures
to contain the outbreak and in preventing specific criminal
activities arising from this context.

These guidelines are intended to raise awareness among law


enforcement agencies and should be managed in accordance
with national legislation, in line with national policing best
practice and in coordination with national public health
authorities.
3.1 SUPPORTING THE IMPLEMENTATION OF PUBLIC
HEALTH MEASURES

Based on the situation faced at national level, and as


per your interagency COVID-19 response strategy, law
enforcement may be involved in supporting public health
control measures in a number of tasks. All protection
measures mentioned earlier apply to the following tasks:

3.1.1 ff At border crossing points;


RESTRICTION OF
MOVEMENTS ff In areas under lockdown.

Recommendations:

ff Wear PPE (when available and recommended


by public health authorities);

ff Apply social distancing measures:


the WHO recommendation is to stay at least
one metre away from each other (some
national guidelines recommend more).

ff Avoid or limit direct contact with documents;

ff When dealing with uncooperative individuals,


limit contact and practise hand hygiene.

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3.1.2 ff Management of containment
PUBLIC ORDER areas and gatherings of people,
for instance at pharmacies
and shops. New partnerships
between private security
firms, law enforcement and the
military should be considered.

ff Cordoning critical infrastructures


such as hospitals.

ff Jail breaks (such cases have


already been reported).

ff Population unrest/riots (over


restrictions, food concerns,
control measures, etc.).

Recommendations:

ff Wear PPE (when available), including gloves,


eye protection and disposable face mask,
should you be in close contact with a crowd;

ff Apply social distancing measures:


the WHO recommendation is to stay at least
one metre away from each other (some national
guidelines recommend more);

ff Wash your hands and face as soon as possible;

ff Clean your equipment and work environment


after your intervention;

ff Pay particular attention to maintaining


public order inside and outside prisons.
Communication over preventive and control
measures concerning detention centres could
play a role in maintaining order.

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3.1.3 ff When a patient shows
CONTACT symptoms or is tested positive
TRACING to COVID-19, public health
practitioners will identify
people who have been in
potential contact with the
affected patient through
contact tracing.

Recommendation:
ff Use proportionate police investigation
resources to trace individuals who have been in
contact with COVID-19 patients. Such activities
should be conducted in strict compliance with
national legislation and with due respect to
individual rights.

3.1.4 ff In a crisis context, emergency


SECURING THE supplies are delivered to
DELIVERY OF healthcare centres (medical
EMERGENCY equipment, PPE etc.)
SUPPLIES

Recommendation:
ff Consider using either private security, military
or law enforcement escorts to prevent thefts or
attacks in order to secure these deliveries.

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3.1.5 ff Law enforcement can play an
PUBLIC active role in relaying national
MESSAGING public health measures to the
population, in coordination
with government agencies and
health agencies.

Recommendations:

ff Stay up-to-date on the evolution of national


public health control measures;

ff Relay information about preparedness


measures and national public advice to the
public;

ff Encourage interagency coordination to ensure


consistent messages to the public;

ff Promote rumour reporting through proper


mechanisms to combat fake news and work
with private industry to take down fake
messages.

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3.2 PREVENTING SPECIFIC ILLEGAL ACTIVITIES
ARISING FROM THE COVID-19 CRISIS CONTEXT

An increased illegal intent in the following crime areas


requires heightened attention from the law enforcement
community.

3.2.1 Law enforcement agencies should


INTIMIDATION consider increasing their monitoring
AND DELIBERATE based on the following modus
CONTAMINATION operandi, which refer to potential
SPREAD deliberate acts that could result in a
risk of contamination spread.
ff Recent cases have shown
examples of individuals spitting
and coughing at law enforcement
officers’ faces to intimidate them.
This could represent a risk if
these individuals are infected by
COVID-19.

ff Certain infected individuals may


deliberately move from affected
areas to non-affected areas,
despite their medical condition
and potential travel restrictions in
place.

ff Instances of individuals claiming


to sell contaminated samples
of body fluids online have been
reported.

Recommendations

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3.2.1 INTIMIDATION AND DELIBERATE CONTAMINATION SPREAD

Recommendations:

ff Take particular care when approaching


uncooperative individuals and wear PPE (when
available).

ff Border police officers should report any


individual showing symptoms at border crossing
points.

ff Specialized investigators in cybercrime or


counter-terrorism should pay particular attention
to online market places.

ff Law enforcement officers involved in public order


or in charge of protecting prominent public
figures should be made aware of these risks.

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3.2.2 The COVID-19 pandemic has
FAKE AND offered an opportunity for fast
COUNTERFEIT cash, as predatory criminals take
MEDICAL advantage of the high market
PRODUCTS demand for personal protection
and hygiene products. The results
of Operation Pangea, conducted
by INTERPOL with enforcement
partners in March 2020, have shown
an increase in fake or counterfeit
medical items available on the
market, including:

ff Disposable surgical masks

ff Hand sanitizers

ff Antiviral and antimalarial


medication

ff Vaccines

ff COVID-19 test kits

Recommendations:

ff Law enforcement agencies should pay


particular attention to the above list of fake or
counterfeit items.

ff Inform the general public about false or


misleading online advertisements related to
these products.

ff National reporting hotlines may identify such


scams at an early stage.

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3.2.3 Since the beginning of the
FRAUD AND COVID-19 outbreak, various fraud
SCAM SCHEMES and scam schemes taking advantage
of the crisis situation have been
reported. These schemes can be
categorized as follow:

ff Online fraud: scammers create


and set up fraudulent websites,
e-commerce platforms, social
media accounts and emails
claiming to sell and deliver
medical products. In some
cases, they use the names
of prominent companies
involved in the production and
distribution of these items.
Victims are then asked to pay
via bank transfer.

ff Telephone fraud: there have


been reports of emerging
telecom fraud and telephone
deception related to the
COVID-19 pandemic. A caller
who pretends to be a relative
currently being treated at
hospital contacts the elderly
by phone. Victims are then
asked to pay for the cost of
the medical treatment by
transferring money or by paying
cash to fake public health
representatives.

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ff Phishing: letters or emails
related to the pandemic are
sent by criminals claiming to
be health authorities, with
the aim of tricking victims
into connecting to a specific
webpage and to login with
their real email address and
password. Scammers then
use their credentials to access
sensitive information and
potentially to steal funds.

Recommendations:

ff Investigative agencies should be made aware of


these practices, which are likely to increase.

ff Law enforcement should relay these emerging


modus operandi to the population through
public messaging.

ff The INTERPOL Financial Crimes Unit (FCU) is


assisting member countries to intercept money
sent by the victims of fraud-related crimes.
Please contact the FCU via your National
Central Bureau for more details.

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3.2.4 There has been a marked increase in
CYBERCRIME cybercrime incidents being tailored
around aspects of the coronavirus
to target organizations and
unsuspecting victims.

ff There is an increase in the


detected number of malware
and ransomware campaigns
that are using the COVID-19
pandemic to infect the computer
systems of individuals and
organizations. Cyber criminals
have evolved their tactics,
techniques and procedures (TTP)
to exploit vulnerabilities due to
the current situation.

ff Critical infrastructure, such as


hospital systems, has been the
focus of cyberattacks and the
deployment of ransomware.

ff With so many more people


working from home, this can
present additional risks and
vulnerabilities, which cyber
criminals may seek to exploit.

ff Law enforcement and cybercrime


agencies are encouraged to
follow the advice below and
share it with the communities
they police.
Recommendations

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3.2.4 CYBERCRIME

Recommendations:

ff Avoid opening suspicious emails and clicking on


links in unrecognized emails and attachments;

ff Back up online and offline files regularly and


securely;

ff Use strong passwords;

ff Keep your software updated, including anti-


virus software;

ff Manage your social media settings and review


your privacy and security settings;

ff Strengthen your home network;

ff Educate your family, especially your children,


about how to stay safe online;

ff If you become a victim, ensure you alert your


local police.

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4.
INTERPOL’S GLOBAL
SUPPORT

COVID-19 presents a global challenge not just for law


enforcement, but for society as a whole.

The pandemic, like crime, knows no borders and our


responses, individually and together, will be essential in
lessening its impact today and in the future.

The reasons INTERPOL was created nearly 100 years ago


are even more valid today. We will continue to provide
whatever support is necessary to our member countries, 24
hours a day, seven days a week.

Our secure global network will ensure vital policing


information continues to get where it is needed.

Our specialist crime units will ensure the latest trends and
threats related to COVID-19 will be shared.

Our Command and Coordination Centre will ensure your


calls for assistance are answered.

INTERPOL remains committed to working with you to make


the world a safer place.
ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

ff Learn more about the origin


of COVID-19, symptoms and
transmission mode
Video

ff Rational use of personal


protective equipment for
COVID-19
More information

ff COVID-19 advice for the public:


questions and answers (available
in English, French, Spanish and
Arabic)
More information

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ABOUT INTERPOL
INTERPOL’s role is to enable police in our 194
member countries to work together to fight
transnational crime and make the world a safer
place. We maintain global databases containing
police information on criminals and crime, and
we provide operational and forensic support,
analysis services and training. These policing
capabilities are delivered worldwide and support
three global programmes: counter-terrorism,
cybercrime, and organized and emerging crime.

www.interpol.int INTERPOL @INTERPOL_HQ INTERPOL HQ